Skinny Puppy / Front Line Assembly / Haujobb / Youth Code Metropolis, Montreal QC, November 29
Published Nov 30, 2014If there was a theme for this particular night at Metropolis, it was release, deferred and denied. The night began with the pleasant promise of violence via the Los Angeles-based Youth Code, whose stripped-down, punk-inflected aggro industrial has just enough grit and acid in it to draw blood. The 20-minute set didn't give the duo much time to develop much in terms of a mood or narrative, so they just threw sucker punches like "Consuming Guilt." It's hard not to be struck by their chemistry even in a brief intro, especially by Sarah Taylor's heavily distorted vocals (the fact that she was wearing a shirt that said "Shot By Cops" was also memorable).
The most high-energy set of the night, most surprisingly, came from German electro-industrial group Haujobb. They took advantage of the brevity of their five-song set to cram as much muscularity and intensity into their set as their aesthetic allowed. Frontman Daniel Myer was positively gleeful, grinning and sending shoutouts into the crowd to friends mid-song.
Front Line Assembly's set deliberately took the energy level in the room down, undulating their way through a set that was all wallowing throb. Bill Leeb's mood was somewhere between lugubrious and languorous, which defined both his delivery and the composition of the performance. The strangest thing about their set, though, was unquestionably the mix, which buried all the creepier and more intricate elements of their songs in a thick, weirdly organic pulsation. They were all blunt instrument and no fine detail, and between that and the drearily sensual atmosphere they created, the audience was practically vibrating with pent-up frustration.
A palpable wave of relief rippled through the audience as Nivek Ogre staggered on stage, carrying an umbrella and dressed as some kind of Evil Rain Wizard. The theatricality of the set was as weird and well executed as ever, including multiple costume changes assisted by creeps in HAZMAT suits and gas masks, a spinal cam, a taxidermied dog and various phosphorescent liquids. The set list choice, however, never gave the audience the excuse everyone was waiting to properly open up a pit; instead, it was composed of oozing, deliciously evil slow jams that just tortured everybody, from "The Choke" to "Worlock."
The only gesture towards a proper devolution into violence was during the encore (where, curiously, there was also a sudden jump in both intensity and the quality of the sound), which closed with an acidic, delightfully rough version of "Assimilate." It was the kind of show that leaves you twitchy and hungry rather than sated and exhausted; there was a reason the show's official afterparty at Passport was packed to capacity, as people desperately tried to burn off the energy they had left.
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